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Cali Carranza: A Pioneer in the Evolution of Tejano Music

By Ramón Hernández

Once upon a time the accordion was only featured in conjunto or norteño music recordings, so who introduced the accordion to la onda chicana?

“We (Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos) where the first to use the accordion in place of the keyboards,” accordionist Calixtro “Cali” Carranza told this writer during an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives in 2001.

To date, that claim has never been disputed. Another unique innovation was repeating what Isidro López did back in the late 1950s and that is combining the horns — the two saxophones of Roberto’s brothers Joél “Gordo” Pulido and Roél “Flaco” Pulido – with his accordion.

On Tuesday, May 1, this singer/songwriter/musician died of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a debilitating condition that affects muscle movement.

Cali, who learned to play drums at age three, switched to the accordion at eight when he joined Los Reyes Del Valle, his father Magdaleno’s band.

During his musical career, he waspart of El Conjunto Bernal plus Mario Montez y Romance before he and his two brothers, Nito and Rubén, formed Los Formales, who became known for their stunning harmonies and live performances.

Carranza was eleven when he made his first recording on Discos Falcón followed by Discos Charro, plus the Supremo, SAS, GCP, Joey, Freddie and Hacienda labels.

He is best known for “SiempreMañana” and “Apaga La Luz” plus his interpretations of “La Macarena” and “Pideme La Luna,” the latter a tune written and originally recorded by Leo Dan plus Los Carlos.

May he rest in peace in God’s eternal embrace.